Ask a Locum: Locumstory’s Q&A advice column 

Illustration of a locum physician with an Ask a Locum logo

Do you have questions about what it’s like to be a locum tenens physician? Whether you’re thinking about choosing the flexible career path of locums or just need some clarity on the logistics, we’re here to help!  

At Locumstory, we meet a lot of locum tenens physicians, NPs, and PAs who want to share what they’ve learned after working locums over the years. So, ask away and get answers and advice about locum tenens straight from the source. If you have any questions you’d love answers to, submit your questions here. We continuously update this post, so check back to see if your question has been answered!   

Do you have to be board-certified to work locum tenens?

— Kendra, Locumstory Podcast listener 


Many locums jobs do require physicians to be board-certified. However, some opportunities may allow you to work if you are considered board-eligible. If you are neither board-certified nor board-eligible, fewer locum tenens jobs are available, but it doesn’t hurt to look regardless. If this is the case for you, a locums recruiter can help you find assignments and facilities that may accept a non-board-certified physician. 

Do doctors with young kids practice as locum physicians, and how do they manage? 

— Nephrologist 


Many physicians with young children enjoy locum tenens work because of its flexibility. Here are the most common scenarios for providers who work locum tenens with young children at home:

Work locums assignments locally  

In many areas, you can find locum tenens assignments close to home within a short driving distance. This allows physicians to enjoy the benefits of locums without having to travel.  

Bring family along as a working vacation 

Did you know you can bring your family to locums assignments? Most locums agencies will help you with accommodations for you and your family. Some locum providers book hotels or Airbnbs with pools, or that are near oceans or other attractions for their kids to enjoy. Other locums choose assignments in locations they’ve always wanted to visit, or areas they want to show their children.

Part-time locums

Some physicians choose to work part-time locums so they can both work and have a good chunk of time with their families when they’re not on assignment. Many physicians working traditional full-time positions have hectic schedules that preclude them from spending quality time with their families. Oftentimes, even if they’re home they may have call or other administrative duties. This impacts the quality time they can spend with their family. With part-time locums, you can make sure your time off is your own. You don’t have to worry about being on call or submitting vacation requests months in advance — you tailor your working schedule around your life and family. 

Locums with a family can work: The ultimate guide to working locums with a family 

Do I have a choice of where I work locums, or do I have to go wherever the agency sends me?

— Cardiologist 


You absolutely have a choice. With locums, you choose where, when, and for how long you go. You ultimately get to decide which assignments you take, depending on what works best. Locum tenens gives you complete control over your career, and the more open you are to a range of locations, the more opportunities you’ll have and the more money you can make. When presented with an assignment, you can always turn it down. You’ll be able to find assignments in many facility types in both rural and large metropolitan settings.  

How transparent are agencies with physician’s pay cut versus what the recruiter keeps?  

— Anesthesiologist   


Recruiters don’t get a “cut” of what the locum physician gets paid. The recruiter’s pay structure is covered by their employer and the client who’s hiring the locum.

Things that do affect compensation are years of training, experience, and facility needs. Locums pay for physicians is also impacted by a couple other main factors: demand for the specialty, location and type of facility, skill set, patient load, and types of shifts needed. Your locums recruiter will explain the different aspects of each assignment they present to you and will help negotiate with the facility for the best compensation possible.  

Pediatrician Dr. Trevor Cabrera notes experienced recruiters have helped him negotiate assignments for higher rates. “In my experience, locums agencies have been able to negotiate much higher rates than hospitals have offered me for the same coverage,” he says. To learn more about working with a locums agency versus direct contracting, check out this episode of The Locumstory Podcast with Dr. Rip Patel.  

Can I work locum tenens close to home?

— Emergency medicine physician 


Being a locum tenens physician offers more flexibility in your career. Many physicians find locums assignments within driving distance of their homes, allowing them to work and stay close to family and friends. Of course, the more open you are to traveling and working in other parts of the country, the more jobs you’ll find, but the great thing about locums is there is always a chance to build and find a career that works best for you. Check out the story of hospitalist Dr. Paymon Kayhani and hear how he works locums while staying close to home.  

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